Memorandum submitted by ConstructionSkills
1.1 ConstructionSkills is the Sector Skills
Council for the construction industrya partnership between
CITB-ConstructionSkills, the Construction Industry Council and
CITB Northern Ireland. It is UK-wide and represents the whole
industry from professional consultancies to major contractors
and SMEs. Established as a Sector Skills Council in 2003, ConstructionSkills
is working to deliver a safe, professional and fully qualified
ConstructionSkills has a leading role in:
providing sector skills intelligence;
defining the skills strategy
for the sectorincluding a sector qualifications strategy;
increasing employer engagement
in skills and training;
skills and training brokerage;
facilitating and leading skills
and training delivery.
1.2 ConstructionSkills provides assistance
in all aspects of recruiting, training and qualifying the construction
workforce across the UK. It works with partners in industry and
Government to improve the competitiveness of the industry as a
whole, representing industry before Government to ensure it has
fit-for-purpose qualifications, training and funding.
1.3 CITB-ConstructionSkills is the construction
industry's Industry Training Board and has levy raising powers.
It helps the industry in England, Scotland and Wales in all aspects
of recruiting, training and qualifying the construction workforce,
and supports this by providing CITB-ConstructionSkills Grant.
2.1 Construction is a fragmented industry
that needs to significantly improve its performance in areas such
as health and safety, quality and cost over-runs if it is to compete
in the long term. ConstructionSkills is giving the industry the
business skills and support it needs to grow, and to improve its
profitability. Part of its Sector Skills Agreement, established
in 2003 with Government and industry, is to increase the number
of SMEs (more than 80% of industry) investing in training by 300%
and support a culture that endorses lifelong learning in the sector.
In response, ConstructionSkills offers a wealth of support, including
services, courses and products to help raise awareness of health
& safety and reduce the number of accidents in the industry.
2.2 Health and Safety Test
One of the key ways ConstructionSkills promotes
health & safety is through the ConstructionSkills Health and
Safety Test. As the industry standard, over 600,000 people booked
tests during 2007. It is designed to ensure everybody working
in construction has a minimum level of health and safety awareness.
Passing the January 2008 test is an essential part of qualifying
for the major card schemes such as CSCS and affiliated schemes.
By January 2008, 1.5 million Health & Safety Test passes had
2.3 Construction Card Schemes
On behalf of the construction industry, ConstructionSkills
delivers the Construction Plant Competence Scheme (CPCS). With
over 200,000 individuals either holding or working towards a Level
2 National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) in Plant Operations,
it is a major competence based card scheme that meets the guidelines
outlined in the recently introduced CDM Regulations. The CPCS
cards show that the cardholder is health and safety aware, as
all cardholders must pass the appropriate ConstructionSkills Health
and Safety Test every five years.
ConstructionSkills also administers, under contract,
the Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS), which covers
over 250 occupations including trades, technical, supervisory
and management. ConstructionSkills also provides similar services
for a number of affiliated schemes covering specific sectors such
as scaffolding (CISRS) and demolition (CCDO).
2.4 Site Safety Plus
The ConstructionSkills' Site Safety Plus Scheme
is a comprehensive health and safety training programme designed
to give relevant training for appropriate levels of the workforce,
ensuring everyone from site operative to senior manager have the
skills they need to progress through the industry, creating a
safer working environment. The Scheme includes courses ranging
from a one-day Health and Safety Awareness course to the five-day
Site Management Safety Training Scheme, now in its 28th year.
During that time over 100,000 delegates have benefited from this
training. All courses are supported by ConstructionSkills publications
and training materials.
ConstructionSkills has recently added the highly
successful DWP Jobcentre Plus Achieving Behavioural Change course
to the Site Safety Plus Scheme, to extend this best practice to
the wider industry.
2.5 Migrant Worker Employer Guidance
ConstructionSkills has developed an online resource
for employers with migrant workers, providing them with guidance
to help ensure their workers are qualified, competent and safeavailable
at www.constructionmigrantworkers.co.uk. This provides information
on key areas such as site inductions for migrant workers, awareness
of employment laws and support to help keep workers safe on site.
To help industry respond to the specific changes
to Construction Design and Management (CDM) Regulations 2007,
the HSE's industry advisory committee, CONIAC, set up a CDM Working
Group, chaired by ConstructionSkills' Head of Health, Safety and
Environment. This group has coordinated the industryproduced guidance
that supports duty holders in implementing the changes to the
CDM Regulations 2007. The group's members include representatives
from across the whole of construction, from Clients to worker
representatives, covering each of the duty holders outlined within
the Regulations. ConstructionSkills hosts the guidance for free
download on its website.
The guidance is classified as an established
standard by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). This means
that it was developed as a code of practice by representatives
working within the sector and should be used to help meet duties
outlined in health and safety law.
2.7 Health and Safety learning materials and
ConstructionSkills is the leading provider of
Health & Safety publications, and with the National Construction
College, its direct training arm, it is also the largest provider
of health & safety training in the UK. In 2007 ConstructionSkills
sold over 150,000 Health & Safety related publications, including
CD-ROMs, DVDs and books. We also provide industry with CITB-ConstructionSkills
Grant to all registered employers, this helps support a wide range
of training and qualifications, including the ConstructionSkills
Health & Safety Test.
HEALTH & SAFETY
3. The Major Contractor Group is setting
high standards for themselves and their supply chain, which is
reflected in a lower proportion of accidents occurring on sites
managed by these companies. However, there is still a significant
proportion of construction work that is not being managed by these
companies and where we do not see any discernable improvement
in performance. In 2007, 600,000 people booked for a ConstructionSkills
Health & Safety Test and the take up of the training courses,
such as those offered as part of the Site Safety Plus suite, were
at an all time high.
4. The legislative framework: Is the health
and safety regulatory burden on businesses proportionate?
In some areas the law needs to go further than
it does currently so that it can effect action on specific areas
of concern. Where the risk is disproportionately high, there should
be specific legislation aimed directly at the problem. An example
of this from the recent past is falls from height, which have
historically been the single largest cause of death in the construction
industry. In the past, general health & safety legislation
seemed unable to have a sufficient impact or influence to change
this. However, since the introduction of the Work at Heights Regulations,
the proportion of people killed by a fall from height has dropped
to record low figures.
In addition, falls from height, being hit by
moving vehicles and objects collapsing or overturning are responsible
for the majority of fatalities in the industry. These are areas
that would benefit from specific, targeted regulation. There is
strong evidence, including from the DWP's Jobcentre Plus Programme,
that demonstrates that when there is robust adherence to the health
& safety legislative requirements, management processes improve
with a benefit to profit, quality and delivery of a project.
4.1 Are EU directives interpreted and translated
by HSC into UK law appropriately?
Using the example of the Construction (Design
and Management) Regulations, there is evidence that the HSC can
try to add too much to regulations written to satisfy the requirements
of a particular directive. The introduction of the `Planning Supervisor'
to the CDM Regulations in 1994 and the then the "CDM Coordinator"
in 2007 is an example of this tendency (although the 2007 Regulations
are an improvement). The requirements set out in the Temporary
or Mobile Construction Sites (TMCS) Directive (92/57/EEC), which
was initially addressed by the 1994 CDM Regulations, do not suggest
the need for an additional role. The duties could simply have
been given to, say, a "lead" designer for a project,
which would have helped with the clarification of duties and encouraged
the design community to adopt less of a neutral approach to health
and safety. The industry is now trying to address the issue of
what level of competence (skill, knowledge, attitude, training
and education) is needed for the role of the CDM Co-ordinator.
4.2 Are businesses given appropriate guidance
by the HSE on their obligations under health and safety law?
The HSE does offer businesses appropriate guidance.
However, our experience is that this works particularly well when
the HSE works with industry, and uses industry organisations as
an enabler and a channel. As regulator and enforcer, the HSE are
not always naturally embraced by businesses. Having said that,
responsible businesses do want assurance that what they are doing
has the support and approval of the HSE.
An excellent example of this was the guidance
for the CDM 2007 Regulations, which was written by an industry
group led by ConstructionSkills, in its role as Sector Skills
Council for the industry. There was unprecedented co-operation,
communication and collaboration between leading industry bodies
that broadly represented construction clients, designers, CDM
Co-ordinators, Principal Contractors, Contractors and Workers.
Large construction clients were working alongside union representatives;
design institutions were working alongside small builders. The
whole process was overseen and enabled by the HSE. What was produced
is clear and practical, supported by the industry and the HSE
and is available, free of charge, from the ConstructionSkills
web-site, as a route to industry. Developing other partnerships
such as this between the HSE and industry organisations, would
provide opportunities for effective regulation and provision of
4.3 What impact will the Corporate Manslaughter
and Corporate Homicide Act (2007) have on businesses' approach
to occupational health and safety? Are directors' health and safety
duties appropriately covered by voluntary guidance?
From the cases that have seen successful prosecutionsall
of which have been small companies where the individual in charge
of operations was not difficult to findthis law will have
little impact. Where it will make a difference, however, is in
high-profile cases where there has been a breakdown of corporate
control and authority which has lead to fatalities, often to members
of the public. In the same way that the Work at Height Regulations
finally made construction companies look seriously at this as
an issue, the Corporate January 2008 Manslaughter and Corporate
Homicide Act (2007) will provide a clear driver for members of
the board to take this seriously.
There is often a misplaced belief amongst middle
managers that health and safety is the sole responsibility of
the Health & Safety Officer. The Competent Person required
under the Management Regulations is there to assist directors
and managers and to highlight to them their responsibilities to
health and safety. A measure of success of this Act will be when
the Health & Safety Team and the Finance Team get equal attention
from the Board. Chairmen and Chief Executives need to appreciate
that it is their responsibility to ensure that health & safety
processes are followed, from the need to carry out risk assessment
to the need to wear hard hats.
The final point, relating to Directors' health
and safety duties and whether these are effectively covered by
voluntary guidance, will only be appropriately covered if the
Institute of Directors is recognised as being the representative
body for company directors, in all their guises. Potentially,
the voluntary guidance could have had a greater impact if it had
been produced with wider input from other organisations that have
direct experience of the construction industry, for example, the
CBI, Construction Client Group, BERR, and so on.
4.4 Does the HSE have sufficient resources
to fulfil its objectives as the health and safety regulator and
meet its PSA targets? Does the HSE allocate its budget efficiently?
Are there areas of HSE's operations that require additional investment?
It is clear from anecdotal evidence from HSE
inspectors working on site and from the number that are seen to
be leaving the HSE, that resources are being squeezed.
The role of the HSE is to ensure that all employers
who are exploiting the health, safety and welfare of their staff
should be pursued through the courts. However, the total number
of cases being taken to court by the HSE has dropped in recent
years, although there is evidence that the proportion of construction
cases remains high. The number of fatalities in the construction
industry also remains high, so clearly there is an issue that
needs to be addressed.
It is difficult for us to judge whether the
HSE's budget is efficiently allocated or whether they require
more funding in some areas. However, the HSE should be looking
to work collaboratively with others partners in industry to widen
its reach. In the past ConstructionSkills has discussed with the
HSE projects such as the joint production of Health & Safety
publications which would create a benefit for both the HSE, in
terms of income, and for ConstructionSkills, in terms of providing
services and information to industry. ConstructionSkills would
be keen to develop this relationship with the HSE to help take
a lead in setting standards that go beyond merely complying with
the law and the HSE's involvement will help cement such standards
as the norm. It is clear that the HSE inspectors on the ground
do not feel sufficiently empowered to look at innovative solutions
as suggested above.
An example of such a solution would be for the
HSE, as the industry's regulator and enforcer, to work more closely
with ConstructionSkills, as the industry's educator and trainer,
to jointly consider training courses and publications. All construction
based HSE publications could be developed and produced through
ConstructionSkills, with subsequent increased market penetration,
particularly with the difficult to reach areas of industry, such
as SMEs, and overall reduction in cost for the Treasury.
4.5 Inspection, enforcement and prosecutions:
What impact has the reduction in inspection rates had on standards
of occupational health and safety?
In the small part of industry that does not
respect the law, this has had a negative impact. This has also
given voice to the thought that the HSE are no longer interested
in pursuing cases through the courts, partly due to the cost of
When compared to the size of the industry, the
rate of inspection was always low; it is now a bit lower. However,
the industry should not be depending upon the HSE to ensure that
it behaves itself.
4.6 Does the HSE get the balance right between
prevention and enforcement?
Only in the recent past has there been an improvement
within the HSE of engaging with industry in preventative action.
As outlined above, there is considerable scope for the HSE to
work more collaboratively with organisations such as ConstructionSkills
to help set standards and improve the competence of the industry.
This would potentially free up HSE resources to deal with the
enforcement elements, which only it can do.
4.7 Are penalties for health and safety offences
No; when comparing the penalties for employees
stealing from their employer with the penalties for employers
being responsible for the death or serious injury of an employee,
the penalties are not proportionate.
4.8 How effectively do HSE and local authorities
interact in their inspection roles?
A suggestion that may help improve the efficiency
and effectiveness of health & safety at Local Authority level
would be to extend the power and remit of the Building Control
Officers. They currently have extensive interaction with SMEs
operating in the domestic market (eg house extensions) where their
role is to check compliance with building regulations. They do
not, however, inspect domestic work for health & safety compliance
and this is an opportunity to expand their remit with limited
resource implications. It is in this area that there is the opportunity
for a significant penetration into a largely untouched, and therefore
unregulated in terms of health & safety, area of the construction
4.9 Migrant workers: Are migrant workers more
at risk of occupational accidents?
There is no evidence that migrant workers are
involved in fatal accidents any more than UK workers. From experience
it is clear that the majority of migrant workers who work in the
established, commercial UK construction industry are highly skilled
with a robust technical knowledge. Highly skilled workers tend
to demonstrate better on-site behaviours more generally, and this
includes health and safety best practice.
There is a risk that a worker who can not speak
or read English would be at increased risk on site through poor
communication and there is a need for research and the development
of tools to help employers assess the safety critical language
skills of migrant workers. ConstructionSkills, working in partnership
with the HSE, is currently undertaking research and subsequent
related product development in this area to address this concern.
4.10 Does the HSE do enough to protect migrant
workers from health and safety risks?
The HSE provides translated materials and has
undertaken limited work with ConstructionSkills on critical Health
& Safety resources to ensure non-UK workers have the same
materials available to them as the domestic workforce. Again,
ConstructionSkills would be keen to work more collaboratively
with the HSE. We have already been tasked by industry to support
employers that take on migrant workers to ensure they are safe
and productive, but this work, although privately it has been
applauded, is not publicly endorsed by the HSE. Having the HSE
work alongside the Sector Skills Council responsible for recruitment
and training more closely is a logical step towards improving
the industry's health & safety credentials, as well as reducing
the HSE's resource burdens.
Another point to make is that there is no officially
recorded information about the nationality of any person involved
in a reportable accident (as required by RIDDOR), except anecdotal
evidence that often plays out in the press should a story make
headlines. There is also very little reliable data about minor
accidents and near misses more generally, so it is next to impossible
to track these issues and spot trends.
The Oil and Gas sector has a voluntary alert
system, called Step Change in Safety, which has been developed
in collaboration with major employers, HSE and contractors. ConstructionSkills
is working with Step Change in Safety to develop a similar alert
system for the on-shore construction sector.
4.11 Occupational Health: What must HSE do
to meet its PSA targets for ill health and days lost per worker?
Does HSE do enough to embed vocational rehabilitation in the workplace?
There is certainly more discussion of occupational
health in the industry, so we believe the HSE's work is having
an impact. There are valuable tools available from the HSE, particularly
through their website. However, promotion of key services and
resources appears minimal. Again, collaboration between ConstructionSkills
and the HSE to further promote and create awareness is logical
step to improving this. We are aware that the HSE is working with
Constructing Better Health and introducing an occupational health
screening, and ConstructionSkills, along with other industry bodies
will need to support this initiative.